I took a long break from writing here, being very busy with preparing for my final exams but even though I wasn’t actively “blogging”, there were many things on my mind I’d seriously want to share here. Now that I’ve given the first phase of my exams, with a gap of about a week before the next phase, I can get down to writing again InshAllah.
Even if you’ve shut yourself away to study and cannot pay much heed to the distractions around you, it’s impossible not to know and be affected by what’s going on in the world. Much of what is happening is extremely distressing, made worse by the lack of credible information and objective judgement. Lies, exaggeration, sensationalism and propaganda seem to rule the day. On the other hand, there are certain people within us Muslims who believe it is okay to kill any number of human beings, Muslims or Non Muslims, to achieve their goals – a distorted version of “for the greater good”. Then again, within them are some who simply pose as Muslims, their real origins and motive being highly dubious, if not outrightly proven as coming from unfriendly “friends”.
Everyday, there’s some random suicide bombing or blast in the country – it’s almost as if you switch on the TV, you expect to see the bright red news ticker flashing the latest incident. It all comes down to, “how many were killed? How many wounded?” Even mosques are not spared, sparking intense suspicion as to who the criminals really are, rather than the one sweeping term used in the media to label all the criminals as “rebels” or “Islamists” – this last term being extremely deplorable.
Our country has its homegrown as well as outsourced problems although I do not join the ranks of those who say, “it’s the Americans’ fault! They conspired against us!” because I believe that it was OUR fault that we weren’t able to stand for our own right. Instead, the highest offices in this country were often seats of corruption and treachery rather than stations for “leaders”. Corruption, selling national interests for personal gain, lawlessness, complete disregard for all principles and rules of state spread into the rest of the country and now, even though we claim that the common Pakistani is really a good person, we know that we are defined by the opposite. We have good people too – bright, intelligent, brimming with talent and creative solutions – but who will let them rise to the top when elections are more about feudal lords, industrialists and “blue blooded” elites simply consolidating their power? “Mr 10%”, the infamous corrupt and criminal-record-holding husband of a former prime minister, has occupied the Presidency… a day I had thought would never come, despite all the mess that the political and military axis has made in the country. So now, as the electricity comes and goes, water crises prevail in one or the other part of the country, we know that we have as able a man sitting in the high office as any other rock in some forgotten cave.
On the social front, there’s no good news either. So-called “honor killings”, buying and selling of women in “marriage” in rural areas are disgusting as they are but there is more too. Wife beatings, torture received at the hands of the in-laws, “vitriolage” (throwing acid on a women, usually a wife, as “punishment”) and the age old dowry system sadden the heart. How can a society be so cruel? True, this occurs in a smaller section of the population and not all of these things happen in every area, but it is horrific nonetheless. For the sake of decency, we can leave out details on other black marks in the society – child abuse, increasing incidence of AIDS, prostitution and now, even homosexuality… A’oodhobillah.
Upon all of what I mentioned above, is the added religion factor. There’s a HUGE gap between Imaan (faith) and Amal (deeds) such that you’ll have people crazily running on to the streets, burning buses and damaging the infrastructure as “protest” when derogatory cartoons of the Prophet(pbuh) were published in Europe but when it’s time for Salaah (prayer) or exhibiting Sabr (patience), refraining from harming others… will anybody really care? In some areas, there’s a rumor sparked that some Non-Muslim “disrespected” the Quran and a wild mob unleashes its senseless fury upon helpless Non-Muslim families. The Shia-Sunni tangle is always bubbling underneath the surface, ready to erupt at the slightest incident. Cheating, lying, stealing, plundering… it’s all a part of normal routine for many. A’oodhobillah.
On another front, materialism and a growing trend towards a “free society” concept rages in the upper-middle class and elites of society. You could look into this segment and wonder if they are Muslims, even in their appearances. From kindergarten to the elderly, this segment of society flourished and transformed under the former President’s misguided sense of “enlightenment”. A new wave of troubles and ills is spreading from this angle, which makes one feel so sad. The speed with which we’re letting go of the last shreds of whatever Islamic values we had can be seen in the shrinking of clothes and the high disdain of any tendency towards “covering up”, second only to perhaps the “secularist” segment in the Turkish society.
We are a society in turmoil and yet, despite all the darkness, there is always a spark of hope. Sometimes, I feel we’re so lost in our troubles, we forget how it feels to be really happy. Recently, when Pakistan won the T20 Cricket World Cup in England, the performance of the team and all the good they did, in spirit and play, was applauded by the world. Fireworks went off across the country and a wave of joy that gave us all goosebumps! The pulsating, reverberating joy buoyed the nation for days, giving them reason to hope that there’s always a silver lining. Seeing the team go down in a prostration of gratitude to Allah in the British stadium (a rare sight unfortunately, especially among the aforementioned upper middle class and elites) was the best part. Some might ask – it’s just a game, what does that have to do with the turmoil in the country? Of course, it’s just a game and it cannot directly have any impact in reducing, for example, the troubles in the Northwestern areas of Pakistan. However, sometimes you need a break from the ordinary, a spark of something new, to jolt you out of believing that the current state of things is the only state that will ever remain. And that realization, that there IS a better situation to aspire and work for, makes a lot of difference to many.